The cultural norms prevailing in Asia put persons with disabilities at a disadvantage by placing them in a subordinate position in society. Persons with disabilities in Asia are constantly taught to be subservient. They are taught only to listen and not speak up. The lack of self-confidence leaves them with hunched shoulders, unable to stand tall and to make their voices heard. In such a society, the situation of these people are worse and they are often more timid and backward than their counterparts of persons with non-disabilities.
Of late, Sri Lankan persons with disabilities have shown a tendency of combating outdated cultural norms and securing their rightful place in society. They have gathered the strength to pursue their ambitions. The number of career men and women has increased considerably in the recent past. However, the same cannot be said of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities have difficulty in finding employment or setting up one’s own business. This is not purely due to the lack of hard skills or educational qualifications. Even if a person with a disability possesses the requisite qualifications and intellect for a particular profession, they fail because they lack the personality traits that employers and clients look for.
Modern day employers specifically look for candidates who possess soft skills such as interpersonal skills, presentation skills, etiquettes, adequate grooming, team spirit, right attitude, flexibility, appropriate dressing sense and presentability, presence of mind, time management, work ethics, personal hygiene, listening skills, communication skills, street smartness and common sense. Research has shown that in this competitive era, mere hard skills do not make a person employable and enable that person to sustain in the professional life. Unfortunately, most persons with disabilities are unable to acquire the skills which are required for personality development due to their impediment. People with non-disabilities follow visual cues and learn from others or join a finishing school. People with disabilities are unable to join mainstream finishing schools as most schools do not offer individualized lessons nor can they learn through observation. It is expected that the personality development programme specially designed to cater to the needs of this marginalized group of people with diverse disabilities will give them the ability to project themselves better and create an impression on others and eventually find a sustainable income.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre started a course of study in Soft Skills for persons with diverse disabilities in March 2018. 15 persons with diverse disabilities (vision impaired, hearing impaired, partially sighted, physical disabilities, wheel chair users and slow learners) will be trained in Soft Skills.
Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:
1 Dhananjaya Jayakody conducting the training.
2 Sign language interpretation.
FaceBook – Manique Gunaratne